Two weeks ago, I published a blog entitled “Just Keep Plodding.” It’s about those times when self-discipline is the only thing causing you to put one foot in front of the other.
This post is like an unintended sequel. It’s still about not caving in to the desire to just quit, but it’s more positive and encouraging.
I say this is an unintentional sequel because I jotted these thoughts down over two years ago! I came across it the other day when I was looking for blogging inspiration amongst some old notes. When I noticed how it fit so well with the previous post, it felt so right to share it with you now!
Back in June of 2017, I wrote down a few God-Time related notes and thoughts. One of those thoughts was about how we need to be ready, willing, and doing what we can towards our desired goal or victory. It may not feel like it’s much or even look like it’s productive, but as long as we’re not sitting down and doing nothing—and especially that we’re not diverting our energies and focus to something that contradicts, I believe God will honor our efforts.
See, God is relational. He doesn’t want to do things all by Himself even though He can. He wants to partner with us. So, even though He takes the lead and does the heavy lifting, He desires that we work with Him. Our work may be more like the little kid who’s “helping” Daddy work on the car—more curious watching and question asking with an occasional handing over a needed tool or holding a nut than anything else. But at least we’re there. We’re involved, and we’re learning. And God is just as pleased and proud of us as any earthly dad is of his own little “helpers.”
But there’s more to this than just pleasing our Father. Our all-wise Heavenly Father knows it’s not good to spoil us by doing everything for us while we sit around waiting for Him to do miracles.
Our eternal Father also knows that, like children with short attention spans, we can change our minds quickly about what we want. So, I think sometimes God waits to see just how determined we are about a goal/desire before He acts. He’s looking for us to prove our commitment with some action. (We call it stepping out in faith.)
I remember like it was yesterday how my thoughts turned to familiar Bible stories that illustrate this truth that we’ve got to do what we can and press forward even when it takes us out of our comfort zone. These stories are what make this post different than “Just Keep Plodding.” They’ll encourage your heart with hope!
We need to be ready, willing, and doing what we can towards our desired goal or victory.
The first story that came to mind is one of my favorites! In Joshua 10 is the story of how Joshua and the Israelite army had to march all night and then engage in battle on behalf of the Gibeonites before God rained deadly hail down and made the sun stand still! Surely, some soldier in the troops must have been telling himself, “Just keep plodding” at the o-dark-thirty hour in the morning! (Remember: they had no clue of how God would help them.)
What fascinates me is that Israel’s obligation to defend the Gibeonites was a regrettable one since the Gibeonites had tricked the Israelites into a treaty. Yet, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to be rid of these tricksters and the obligation by letting someone else annihilate them, Joshua and company followed through on their promise!
Can you hear the grumbling in the ranks as the people of God plodded on through the night? “I don’t know why we’re in such a hurry to go defend these jerks who deceived us that we HAD to leave tonight! Surely, we could’ve waited until the morning! Why even go in the first place? Let those other armies wipe the Gibeonites off the face of the earth and do us a favor!”
Of course, I can’t prove that any Israelite said or even thought any such thing. You won’t find a Bible verse that backs me up. BUT I do know human nature. And it’s not changed much—if at all—over the millennia. You know as well as I do that we would certainly say/think those exact same thoughts! So, it’s safe to say they did, too.
I imagine that the only thing that kept Joshua and the Israelites marching forward is thoughts that combated the negativity: “Yes, I’d rather be at home sleeping, but we are the people of God. God is pure and true, never going back on His word. So, we are people of integrity. We’ll do what we said we would do, even to our own hurt” (cf. Psa. 15:4b).
Their willingness to keep plodding, to follow-through on commitments, to do what they could do was not in vain. God showed up and did some of the most awesome and unique miracles recorded in the Bible!
The next Bible story I thought of is found in 2 Chronicles 20. This time the Israelites were being attacked by not just one army but three! Greatly alarmed by the news of this approaching mega-army, King Jehoshaphat and the Israelites humbly cried out to the Lord for help.
And God replied, “Do not be afraid or discouraged …. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. …[But] You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, ….” (2 Chron. 20:15b-16a,17a NIV).
Unlike the previous story, the Israelites didn’t have to do any fighting this time. God took care of the enemy by causing them to turn on each other!
But they did still have to march out towards those enemies. And again, they didn’t know how God was going to help them. So, who knows how many Israelites were fighting a mental battle on the way, confused over how God could defeat the enemy without the Israelites lifting a sword but remembering the words of King Jehoshaphat’s motivational speech: “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld” (v.20 NIV).
Why did they have to march out there, if God was going to show up and basically do everything for them?! What a waste! Right? Wrong!
Even though none of the Israelites were going to actually face the enemy, they still needed to get up and go. Why? Because how else were they going to get all the spoils and plunder left by the enemy back home?!
So, don’t give up. Press on. Move forward. Prepare yourself to do whatever hard work is waiting, since you don’t know exactly how God will show up to help you. Maybe He’ll do some miracles that sustain you and give you an advantage as you tackle the challenges. Maybe He’ll take care of it in some miraculous way that doesn’t require you doing what you expect to do.
Either way, just learn the lesson the four lepers of 2 Kings 7 (vv.3-10) figured out. Caught between another enemy army and a famine-starved city, they realized they would starve to death if they stayed still and if they went backwards into the city. The only food around was in the enemy’s camp. They knew it was risky, but they got up and moved toward the help and mercy they hoped to receive.
Their efforts—their faith in action—proved to be far more productive than they could have ever imagined! Not only did they feast like kings, they helped save their whole community from starving!
Plod on, if you must, in the sense of being determined and faithful. But let your heart be encouraged to press on with hope, knowing that Jesus will walk with you. He will help you conquer your challenges and may even go before you to fight your battles, so you only have to show up for the plunder! Either way, good things are waiting on the other side of life’s challenges. So, get up and move towards that good.
Thanks for reading!
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™